Working from home doesn’t have to mean your career is on standstill or that, sat on the sofa or at your makeshift desk, you’re simply biding time until you can be ambitious again.
In fact, it could actually be your opportunity to build a dream career plan and excel in your job – as long as you know how to do it.
This is one of the main messages in Harriet Minter’s new book, WFH – How To Build A Career You Love When You’re Not In The Office. In it she discusses the skills that can help you work more effectively day-to-day, as well as how to propel your career forwards.
Drawing on her own experience as a career and life coach, Minter says while the basics of WFH – a good office chair and WiFi connection – are important, you still need to put in effort if you want to excel in your career from your own home.
“There are two things you can do to achieve this,” Minter tells me, as we chat first thing on a Monday morning. “And they’re internal and external.”
Looking in, it’s worth assessing how you actually work from home. “Trying to work exactly the same way you worked in the office isn’t right,” says Minter. The whole point of WFH, she says, is to have the freedom to experiment with your working pattern and find a working style that works best for you.
“That might be that you get more done first thing, or you’re better at video calls in the afternoon,” she adds. “Play around with your working patterns and what makes you really productive.”
Once you’ve used WFH to monitor your energy levels – and worked out what you need to be at your most productive – you’re more likely to work effectively and efficiently and, ultimately, achieve what you hope to in your working days.
The second way to achieve career success at home is the outward facing part: being thoughtful and proactive about building connections, says Minter.
“It’s natural to have these conversations in the office but we forget to have them at home.”
We no longer have the queue for the coffee machine, or chats at the tea station. “You have to be really mindful of it,” she says, “and build it into your working life – we should aim for three conscious connections every single week”.
A ‘conscious connection’ is making time to talk to somebody about your career and whats going on for you. If you do this every week, she says, your career will “skyrocket” without you knowing it. Minter suggests choosing a peer, your boss, and perhaps someone in your industry outside of your organisation.
“What you’re doing is building connections, talking about what you want, and making an effort to put yourself in front of people – even if it’s virtually! It’s natural to have these conversations in the office but we forget to have them at home,” she says.
But in some ways, it’s actually easier from home, because you can plan who to speak to, what to say, and put a lot more thought into your interactions.
As lockdown slowly eases and returns a sense of normality, we might find ourselves back in offices again before too long. Minter suggests speaking to your manager now if you’re keen to work more flexibly going forward. “Talk to your boss about what a ‘hybrid’ model of work looks like as early as possible,” she says – such as two days in the office, and three from home.
If your boss is sceptical, gather some evidence together to prove you can work efficiently at home – such as monitoring productivity levels if you can, or looking at examples of why working from home is beneficial for the business.
At its best, Minter writes in her book, ”working from home offers choice, freedom and the ability to find the perfect work-life blend that works for you. That is the most important part here.”
So, don’t forget to treat yourself with kindness, give yourself a real (and metaphorical) break from time to time, but also get back to work when you know you need to. As she puts it: “You’ve got this.”
WFH by Harriet Minter is published by Greenfinch on March 4.